Images are important.
Even if your blog’s content relies heavily upon the written (or typed) word, how well you utilize images to draw people into the meat of your content and retain their interest can have a major impact on engagement metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, and page views.
But on the flip side, images can also be a big drain on your site’s resources. Whilst poorly coded themes and bloated plugins can slow your site down, a few large images can have a far greater impact.
With those pros and cons of images in mind, I thought I’d round up all of the best image-related plugins for WordPress. Whether you’re interested in making the most of your images, or want to optimize them so that your site’s load speed isn’t compromised, there’s something for you below!
10. Image Pro
Working with images in WordPress can be something of a clumsy experience — the efforts that the WordPress development team are putting into improving the media uploader for WordPress 3.5 is strong evidence of that.
However, that need no longer be the case with Image Pro, as you can see from the following video:
Although we only mentioned this plugin just the other day, it bears mentioning again, and takes a rightful place here.
This plugin does exactly what it says on the tin — it takes a standard WordPress gallery, and converts it into a slideshow:
Although Gallery to Slideshow only offers up barebones slideshow functionality, you can make a copy of its CSS files and fiddle to your heart’s content.
If you’ve been a WordPress user for any length of time, you have probably heard of this plugin – it is after all one of the most downloaded plugins of all time.
Quite simply, NextGEN Gallery is the best gallery plugin for WordPress, hands down. If your blog is image-driven and you want to add a little more spice to your galleries, this is the best solution.
If you display your own images on your WordPress blog, you may well want to ensure that people can’t simply use them for their own gains without you receiving some sort of credit.
This is where Watermark Reloaded – a plugin that enables you to add a customized watermark to all of your images. You have control over every aspect of the watermark; from the font, to the positioning, to the color, and much more:
Image file size can be one of the biggest issues when it comes to site speed. It is all too easy to upload a 500kb image without even realizing it.
This is where Bulk Resize Media can help, because it automatically resizes any oversized image to a set maximum file size. You can configure the maximum width and height, as well as the jpeg quality. You can also use its bulk resize feature to resize all existing attachments.
You are no doubt aware that images can be of great help when it comes to SEO. Not only can a well optimized image help Google better understand the relevancy of a page to any particular keyword, but you can drive traffic to your blog through image search as well.
That’s where SEO Friendly Images can help, as it can automatically complete the alt and title tags for all images in your blog posts if you forget to input them.
If I had a dime for every time I’d uploaded an image then realized that I wanted to change the file name, I’d be a rich man. Deleting the image on the server, then renaming the local image and re-uploading it is a real pain. However, that can be a thing of the past with Media File Renamer:
With the plugin installed and activated, the filename will match the image’s title (with spaces replaced with dashes). This is a quick and easy way of optimizing your image filenames without having to fiddle about too much.
Everyone knows that sitemaps are handy for search engines. They give the likes of Google a guided tour of your website, with an explanation of the importance of one page when compared to another. In this way, the most important parts of your site are more likely to be prioritized, indexed and cached accordingly.
Although I am no authority in image sitemaps, I presume that the logic remains the same. Google XML Sitemap for Images, as you would expect, generates a sitemap for your blog’s images, just as you would expect sitemaps for posts, pages, taxonomies and archives.
2. Lazy Load
One way to all but eradicate the potential issue of images slowing down a site’s load time is to only load them when they are needed — i.e. when they are within the enduser’s viewport.
Lazy Load does exactly that. So if you have a large image halfway down a blog post, it will only load when the user sees the spot where it should be. Everything is is loaded beforehand, resulting in a smoother browsing experience.
1. WP Smush.it
What if there was a way in which you could reduce an image’s file size without compromising its quality? Well, in short, there is. It is known as “lossless” image optimization, and involves stripping out unnecessary meta data, optimizing the compression process, and so on.
WP Smush.it can perform lossless image optimization on every new image you upload to your blog, as well as every image that is already on your blog, via its “Bulk Smush.it” feature. Using this plugin is a no-brainer — smaller image ssize at no cost.
Creative Commons image courtesy of kevin dooley